Palestinian Authority cracks down on former PM’s nonprofit

Salam Fayyad says he’ll sue following confiscation of funds from his ‘Palestine Tomorrow for Social Development’

Elhanan Miller is the former Arab affairs reporter for The Times of Israel

Former Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayyad in June 2011. (AP/Majdi Mohammed)
Former Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayyad in June 2011. (AP/Majdi Mohammed)

The Palestinian Authority has confiscated the funds of a nonprofit organization headed by former prime minister Salam Fayyad, Palestinian media reported on Monday.

Fayyad, an economist and political independent who was warmly embraced by the West during his 2007-2013 tenure as prime minister, told the Ma’an News Agency that he would seek legal recourse over the confiscation of funds donated to Palestine Tomorrow for Social Development, an associated founded in 2005 to empower impoverished segments of Palestinian society.

According to its website, the group’s activities include capacity building for youth, arts and theater projects in the Gaza Strip, and the operation of a free dental care clinic.

Last December, PA President Mahmoud Abbas ordered a broad probe into 2,800 nongovernmental organizations operating in the West Bank in a professed attempt to increase accountability and crack down on financial irregularities.

But Azmi Shuaibi, commissioner of the local chapter of Transparency International, told The Times of Israel that the move was nothing more than a government bid to curtail civil society in the Palestinian territories. Ninety percent of corruption cases take place in government institutions, not NGOs, Shuaibi asserted at the time.

Sources close to Fayyad told the London-based news website al-Araby al-Jadeed on Monday that three weeks ago the Palestinian prosecutor general ordered the confiscation of a bank transfer worth $700,000 from the Emirates Red Crescent, earmarked for a well-digging project in Area C of the West Bank geared at “supporting the steadfastness of Bedouins.”

While Fayyad has provided no detailed account of the accusations leveled against his organization, sources close to the former premier told the London-based daily that it has consistently operated according to Palestinian law.

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